How to fix common radiator problems

Early October is usually the time when the central heating goes back on full time. The Indian summer of September has usually long since passed and the nights start closing in, especially once the clocks change.

It’s around this time that radiator issues are most common. During the summer they may have been only used intermittently, but by autumn when you really need them again, you often find your rads aren’t working as efficiently as you’d like them to be.

There are various symptoms of an underperforming radiator and we’ll cover those here.

The radiator has hot and cold patches

This is a common problem that is fortunately very easy to solve. There are usually two possible reasons for radiators that are not evenly hot.

1. There is sludge in your radiator

This is essentially lots of rust and corroded metal that has broken off internally and is sat in the bottom of your radiator, causing it to be inefficient and not heating up properly.

The best way to remove this is to remove the radiator from the wall and flush it out with water. Adding central heating inhibitor will help prevent it happening again.

2. There is air trapped in your radiator

This is very simple to fix as all you need to do is locate the radiator bleed and use a radiator key to release the air. This links below will help you through this process.

One radiator won’t get hot

This is a fairly common problem. For example, you may have ten radiators in your house and nine of them are getting hot whereas one remains cold.

Things to try to sort this issue out are opening up the lockshield valve on the cold radiator, turning on the thermostatic radiator valve and removing the head of the TRV and checking to see if the pin is stuck.

A couple of radiators are warm but not hot

This can be quite a frustrating issue if you a fairly new to DIY on your own heating system. The radiator(s) in question is almost, but not quite, getting up to optimum temperature.

You know it’s not an issue with radiator sludge, so what can it be? It’s likely that your system needs balancing.

This is basically ensuring that the flow of hot water coming from your boiler is distributed evenly around all of your radiators. Again, once you know how, this is a pretty easy problem to sort out and the link below shows you exactly how to do it.

A leaky radiator valve

Water leaking out of your radiators can range from a minor inconvenience to being a serious problem, depending on the amount coming out.

Either way, it’s not nice to have dirty radiator water leaking out onto your floor. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply tightening the nuts on the valve with a spanner.

Sometimes, however, you may find your need to replace the entire valve. The links below will tell you all you need to know (and more) about thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)


• What is the best radiator position in a room?

• Troubleshoot your radiator issues

• How to bleed a radiator with a combi boiler

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